8 Other Things That Happened on July 4
Of course we know that July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S. But lots of other things have happened on that date as well. Here are just a few of them.
1. Three former presidents died.
On July 4, 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—America's second and third presidents, respectively—both passed away. The two politicians had a love-hate relationship, and Adams's last words were supposedly, "Thomas Jefferson survives." (He didn't know that Jefferson had passed away a few hours earlier.) Exactly five years later, on July 4, 1831, James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, died in New York City.
2. Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond.
On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau began his two-year living experiment at Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts.
3. Alice Liddell first heard the story of Alice in Wonderland.
On July 4, 1862, little Alice Liddell listened to a story told by Lewis Carroll during a boat trip on the Thames—it would later become, of course, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was published exactly three years later, on July 4, 1865.
4. Two famous advice columnists were born.
On July 4, 1918, twin sisters Esther Pauline and Pauline Esther Friedman were born. Today they're better known as Ann Landers and Dear Abby.
5. George Steinbrenner came into the world.
On July 4, 1930, future Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was born (and presumably fired the doctor immediately).
6. Lou Gehrig delivered his retirement speech.
On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his famous retirement speech at Yankee Stadium after being diagnosed with ALS. He tells the crowd that he considers himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
7. Koko was born.
On July 4, 1971, Koko, the sign-language gorilla, was born.
8. Bob Ross passed away.
On July 4, 1995, Bob Ross died, and all over the world, Happy Little Trees were a little less happy.
This list first ran in 2008 and was updated for 2020.